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OR T H O D O X
For OCTOBER, 1802.
A deficiency of zeal indeed in religious concerns does not always proceed; either in the clergy or luity, from a want of knowledge: Sensual appetites; ungoverned pasions, worldly cujoms, all combine together in making men languid in the performance of eren clear and acknowledged duties; yet it must be confefjed, that a firm belief in the truth of Christianity resulting from
comprehensive view of the proofs by which it is ejiablished, is the most probable mean of producing in all men integrity of life; and of animating, especially, the ministers of the gospel, to a zealous and discreet discharge of their , pujtoral functions.
BP. WATSON's Preface to his Tracts.
THE LIFE OF JAMES BONNELL, Ese. JAMES JAMES BONNELL, Esq. was born at Genoa, November 14, 1653.
He was the son of Samuel Bonnell, merchant of Leghorn, where the great trade he carried on, his sweet and obliging behaviour, but especially the piety and integrity of his life, procured him grcat credit and efteem: his mother was Rebecca, daughter of Thomas Sayer, Esq. who resided near Norwich.
In 1655, Mr. Bonnell, the father, removed with his family into England: where, upon the restoration of the royal family, the services he had done them, procured him a patent to be accomptant general of the revenue of Ireland : his son's life being included in the patent with his own. He did not long possess it ; for he died in 1664, leaving hiş fon and one daughter to the care of his wife, a lady of fingular piety and prudence : graces, which the well employed in the cducation of her fou, by giving a right tin&ure to his mind, and seasoning it early with the love of virtue
He received the first rudiments of his learning at Dublin; after which he was sent to Trim school, and committed to the care of Dr. Jenison, under whose tuition he improved in every valuable accomplishment.
He was early pious. The first books he rcad with pleasure were those of devotion. Thus set forward betimes in the way to heaven, he persevered in it with indefatigable diligence to the last.
At fourteen he was removed from Trim school to a private one in Oxfordịhire: but the great remiffness of the conductors there, in point of religious æconomy, foon disgusted our young student.
Therefore, from Oxfordiliire he was sent to Catherine-hall in Cambridge ; where, under the learned Dr. Calamy, his advancement in learning kept equal pace with his improvements in piety and years. Vol. III, Churchm. Mag. Oct. 1802.
After taking up his degrees he removed into the family of Ralph Freeman, Esq. of Hertfordshire; and there undertook the education of that gentleman's eldest son. It was happy for Mr. Freeman to find for his son so good an instructor, fo inestimable a friend : Mr. Bonnell had great sweetness of temper, joined to a sound and penetrating judgment; a sedate gravity to command respect; an easy cheerfulness to engage love ; an happy mode of explaining the difficulties of learning ; clear notions himself, of what he would render intelligible to his pupil; a noble genius, and a lively fancy, tempered with prudence and discretion : more than all these, he poflefled great ftri&tness of life, and had the happy art of recommending piety to the practice of young minds.
During Mr. Bonnell's stay in Mr. Freeman's family, he had frequent attacks of lickness; his conftitution being tender and easily injured : it appears by the meditations he composed about that period, that his body was an uncomfortable companion to his mind; and frequently difturbed him in his religious course. He complains of himself for being sometimes uneasy under the load of sickness, and wishing its removal with too much eagerness. Had we room to insert here these meditations written in his twenty-seventh year, it would doubtless give our readers great fatisfaction : they well delineate his happy progress in piety, and how bravely he encountered the difficulties he met with from infirmities, which all mankind more or less experience, and are not to be entirely conquered while we are in this world. In one of them particularly he very pathetically expreffes the great benefit of thele severe trials, and his thankfulness to his God for impofing them.
Here it is proper to observe, that Mr. Bonnell very early began a useful practice, which he continued during his whole life : it was his custom, upon every return of the holy sacrament, to put down in writing those thoughts which most affected his mind : many of these remarks were penned betwixt his twenty-first and twenty-seventh year; a time of life too commonly otherwise employed. Here we see a young man, instead of indulging himself in his folly, bemoaning his fins, praying for grace to resist every temptation, and taking inore pains to fit his soul for appearing at the Lord's table, than others at that age usually do to adorn their bodies.
He continued in Mr. Freeman's family till 1678, and then went with his pupil into Holland ; staying almost a year in Sir Leohine Jenkins's family at Nimeguen, very much to his satisfaction. From thence he went, in the amballador's train, through Flanders and Holland, and so returned to England. From that time he continued with his pupil till 1683, when Mr. Freeman was sent into France and Italy. In 1684, Mr. Bonnell went and met him at Lyons; and in his company visited several parts of France. So great was his tenderness for the young gentleman, that he being taken dangerously ill of the small-pox, at Tours, Mr. Bonnell conftantly exposed himself to that distemper, though it was what he never had ; and so foon as he found him able to use them, supplied him with many excellent meditations, and often joined with him in prayers and thanksgivings for his recovery.
In the year 1684, Mr. Bonnell, leaving Mr. Freeman in France, came dire&tly from thence to Ireland, and took his employment of accomptant general into his own hands; which, since his father's death, had been managed by others for his ule. This is an office of much business and high trust; and he was so remarkably diligent and faithful in the difcharge of it, so dextrous in dispatch, so ready to oblige, that he soon equally gained the efteem of the government, and the love of all who were any way concerned with him.
But as religion had ever the principal sway in his affe&tions, so a zeal for that, a contempt of this world, and a mind raifed above it's perishing concerns, had before this period given him strong desires of quitting all fecular employments, and dedicating himself entirely to the service of God. It could be no worldly consideration which fuggefted that thought to him; for the temporal advantages of his office were greater than what he could have expected in a long time from any ecclefiaftical preferment; and his station was besides of sufficient dignity and credit. Nothing hindered him from actually entering into holy orders, but the confideration that his employment was a great trust, of which he must render an account to God, not only for his discharging of it, but for those hands into which he thould place it; a man of knowledge and sufficient ikill, but chiefly who had established a character of piety, was what he wanted. Such a one in 1688, he apprehended he had found, and had actually agreed with upon the subject : but the news of the revolution, which then took place, changed the gentleman's thoughts, and broke Mr. Bonnell's measures.
His desires of entering into the ministry appear to have been of a very early date ; for several attempts were made by his friends during his refidence in England to procure him a settlement in the Church there; some of which might have succeeded, had he not been averse to the seconding their zeal by any endeavours of his own: nay, when his friend, Mr. Freeman, designed to have purchased, and presented him to the advowson of a benefice, Mr. Bonnell himself was the only person who opposed it, and thereby disappointed the intentions of his friend.
This conduct, which may seem somewhat extraordinary, was owing to an opinion be had conceived, that it was improper for interest to have any share in the disposal of spiritual employments.
During King James's reign, Mr. Bonnell discharged his office himself. Though he was one whom the then ruling party could never hope to bring over to their interests; yet, fo fully were they convinced of his abilities and integrity, that they never thought of removing him from his employ, ment. Such an openness and fincerity shone in all his actions, such unshaken fidelity was his rule and guide, fo known an enemy was he to faction and intrigue, that he was not only free from blame, but even suspicion; and the enemies of his religion reverenced his person.
Dangers, however, seemed evidently approaching. He saw them, and accordingly employed his thoughts in arming himself against, and preparing for the severest trials. His private papers at that period are full of excellent prayers, and meditations proper for a devout Christian in times of difficulty and distress. He seems to have laboured then more than at any time of his life before, to disengage his attections froin this world, and. bring his mind to an utter indifferency for it. In thort, it was his daily work to fortify his foul with a noble faith in God, with true Christian courage, and the firmeft resolution of sacrificing all to God and his duty, should he be called to it. By such exercises as these, he was well prepared for whatever might befal him ; nor was he lets earneft in his prayBb. 2
ers for the removal of those calamities he saw falling upon the community, than careful to fit himself for bearing his own share of them.
As thus he saw danger coming on with a composed mind, so his apprehensions did not increase at its near approach. When the kingdom was universally alarmed at the report of a mailacre, designed to have been perpetrated on Dec. 9, 1688, the news, as may well be supposed, aftonished the Protestants in all parts, particularly in Dublin, from whence great multitudes fled in confusion to the sea fide, to make the best of their way for England. What share Mr. Bonnell had in these fears, and how quickly he got the better of them, the following extract from one of his memorandums will beft thew, written on that very day of terror and disorder, when the impressions which a common danger is apt to make upon the best resolved minds were most probably the strongest.
“How inconstant are human things ! Blessed is the soul which hath its hope fixed on thee, O Lord! Last Thursday the letter threatening a mafsacre of all the English on this day, came to town :-people began to think of England, and multitudes flocked away.--I went myself to Ring's End, thinking if there were any alarm, I was nearer to take shipping. I had the duties of my place upon me and no leave to go; therefore I would not go, unless in case of extremity, and when no duty could be attended. -- The index of God's] will, is his providence; and of his providence, is my duty; this is the star that points out to me the course I am to take.God requires of us a confident reliance on him in the station wherein he fets us a quiet discharge of our duty; and he promises his safeguard to such ; Isaiah xxx. 15. In returning and rejt Mall ye be saved, in quietness and confilence shall be your strength.--I thought therefore I would return :-—Behold I am come, O my God! hide not thyself from thy servant in the day of danger : 0 thut not out thyself from me:--I have deserved, I most humbly acknowledge, that thou shouldest withdraw thy grace and favour from my soul. But cast not away, O Lord! all thy past favours, and let them not be loft upon me.- Lord, thou lovest to fuccour in distress : nothing is so pleasing to generous love, as to rescue from danger those whom it is pleased to favour. What sentiments doth this awaken in an ingenuous heart! Who can but adore that watchful love which feasonably comes in to its preservation! This, O Lord ! is my humble confidence in thee : I not only hope deliverance from thee, but that thou wilt make this deliverance a means to my soul of returning thee love and praises for ever. We are not to think but that even this terror is a judgment from thee. O pardon, gracious Lord, the fins which have more immediately provoked it; even our not having laid to heart, so much as we thould, the terrors of soul, O molt gracious Lord Jesu, which thou didīt undergo for our fakes ; when thy soul was exceeding Sorrowful even unto death, and thou criedst out, Father ! save me from this haur: By thy terrors, 0 Lord ! fanétify this thy judgment; and may we ever love to meditate on thy agony for our fakes." Amen.
Hence the devout reader may discern how a fincere Christian, hy a firm confidence in God, could secure the peace of his own mind amidīt a scene of general disorder ; and may learn, at the same time, the way to be equally safe, serene, and happy, should it please God to fend the like caJamities upon us, Lest any inward remorse might shock his dependance, Mr. Bonnell was about the time just mentioned particularly diligent to conciliate himself with his God, as the only true foundation of confidence in private troubles. This is evident from the following meditation written on the morning of Christmas-day in that year of confusion.
“ God hath said, In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. But who can have confidence in God?-St. John hath told us, he whole heart condemns him not*. And who is the happy man whose heart condemns him not ? St. Paul, by a reasonable inference, tells us, ke uho alloweth not himself in any thing which he condemneth : happy is he who condemneth not himself in that thing which he allowetht. And again, Where there is remission of fins, we have boldness to enter into the Holicji by the blood of Jesus t'; because the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all fins. So then the pardon of fins gives us this confidence in God. Come, oh
my soul ! let us go to the blood of Jesus, that we may be cleansed by it; that our bodies may be made clean by his body, and our fouls wathed by his precious blood : that we may obtain this confidence, our only means of strength and support in this time of danger.”
Thus armed with confidence in God, Mr. Bonnell waited the issue: and as he put himself into his hands, fo from him he had safety and deliverance. He was continued in his employment without defiring it. It was happy for many Protestants that he was fo : fince whatever he received out of it, he distributed amongst them with a liberal hand. He fought out opportunities of relieving his needy brethren, and went about doing good to the necessitous and oppressed. He boldly pleaded for them to those who were in power ; and ventured to the expending his necessary subsistence, to get the injured Protestants relieved : indeed, though none were more industrious to conceal it, bounty to the poor was one of his most distinguishing characteristics.
When, in the progress of the war, the protestants in Dublin were denied the exercise of their religion ; their churches turned into prisons, and their ministers confined ; Mr. Bonnell deeply lamented those fins which he accounted the severest of God's judgments; and endeavoured to supply the wants of the church's public prayers, by the greater constancy of his private devotions.
But these calamities were foon over, and succeeded by all that joy, which long-wished for liberty, safety, and peace could give : and, as Mr. Bonnell had always expressed his forrow in fervent prayer to God, fo now his joy turned all to praises. The mutual caresses of the protestants, on this occasion, he improved to the noblest purposes ; thence to raise his mind to heaven, and contemplate those endearments, that seraphic love, and perfect bliss, which shall fill the souls of the faithful in the realıns of eternity.
But his share in the general joy was soon abated from two causes : the death of his mother, which he heard about this time, filled his heart with true religious forrow; he bore her the tenderest respect, and the greatest affection : she had done every thing for him which nature or religion could suggest; and he was gratefully sensible of all his obligations to her: his meditations upon her death, too long to be inserted here, thew a spirit truly afflicted for his loss; yet submillive, without murmur, to the will of * 1 John iii. 21. + Rom. xiv, 22.
| Heb. x. 18, 19. § 1 John i. 7.